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5 Things To Know Before Your Whale Watching Trip

To witness the splendour of the blue whale, the world’s largest animal to have ever lived seems a mere dream for most of us and is usually considered an opportunity that comes only once in a lifetime. However, whale watching in Sri Lanka has changed that for good; as you can spot these majestic creatures at any time during the year, no matter which part of the coast you’re in!

But how do you decide when and where to go whale watching in this island?! Here are five things you should know before your whale watching trip. 

1. Whale Watching in Mirissa

Mirissa is a fishing village situated on the south coast between the towns of Matara and Galle. Renowned for its picturesque scenery, pristine beaches and scrumptious food, Mirissa, is the most accessible place to see magnificent whales and pods of dolphins, as the town can be easily reached from Colombo and other cities. Hence it makes for an excellent trip, especially if you’re on a short holiday with your family.

You can get to Mirissa by bus, train or car. Travelling to Mirissa by car is the most convenient and fastest option as you can take the Southern Expressway to reach the town. However, the coastal line train would give the kids some nice views of the beach and might be more enjoyable. Whale watching in Mirissa should be at the top of your bucket list; as you’ll see blue whales, bryde’s whales and more. 

2. Whale Watching in Trincomalee

Trincomalee in the East Coast has become another popular destination for dolphin and whale watching excursions. Home to one of the world’s finest natural harbours, the town is celebrated as the most picturesque coastal areas in the island. Whale watching in Trincomalee is the most exciting thing you could do on the East Coast, especially if you’re travelling with family. You can get to the city by road, rail or even a plane!  

3. Family-Friendly Accommodation 

Whether you’re looking for a luxury resort or a boutique villa by the beach, ensure that it’s child friendly. From menus to appease the little ones to the availability of baby cots and other things your kids might need during their holiday; are key things to look out for when choosing the right place to stay. When choosing accommodation, always pick one that’s located close to the harbour. Whale watching boats usually depart from the dock around 6 am, so you’ll need ample time to get the kids ready, without having to worry about travel time! 

4. Best Season for Whale Watching

The best time to watch whales and dolphins in Mirissa is from November to April when the ocean is calm and warm. Whales are known to migrate around the southern end of the island during these months too; increasing your chances of spotting a gentle giant. 

Between May to October, the whales migrate from the southern coast to the eastern coast. Head towards Trincomalee during these months for a whale and dolphin watching excursion. During May to August, blue whales remain as close as 6-8 nautical miles (about 30 min by boat) east of Trincomalee, which is an ideal short trip to enjoy with your kids. 

The combined seasons of Mirissa and Trincomalee give Sri Lanka the longest whale watching season spanning 9 months – perfect to plan a trip that fits your whole family’s schedule. 

5. Types of dolphins and whales you can see 

The south gives you the opportunity to witness a wide range of species including the most famous blue whale, in addition to sperm whales, right whales, fin whales, killer whales, whale sharks. Several species of dolphins such as common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins, and striped dolphins could also be spotted as they playfully swim about. Off the eastern coast from Trincomalee, you can see pods of whales including blue whales, sperm whales and sometimes, even killer whales. Dolphin species such as bottlenose, spinner, striped and Risso’s dolphins could be spotted in Trincomalee. 

6. What to bring 

All top tour companies provide the necessary Personal Protective Equipment needed for the journey including life jackets. A snack and drinking water are usually provided and all boats are expected to have First Aid on board. However, if you take medication for any specific conditions, ensure to carry it with you as the journey could last for up to 5 hours. In terms of clothing, it’s best to be in your most comfortable attire as it could get quite hot out there. Apply copious amounts of sunscreen, especially to the little ones, to protect yourself from the UV rays. 

7. Boat trip 

Tours in both Trincomalee and Mirissa could last between 4 to 5 hours. The boat rides in Trincomalee and Mirissa start early morning, generally at 6 am, from the Trincomalee Harbour and the Mirissa Harbour. With the host of whale watching tour companies available, finding one that suits your budget is not hard. Prices range from $20 to $40 in both Mirissa and Trincomalee. However, care must be taken while choosing boat tour companies; it’s advisable to check for certifications and safety measures to ensure they comply with all the relevant safety measures. The tours generally include a small snack and some light refreshments to keep you hydrated and energised during the tour. 

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